Amazon Verizon 5G LEO expansion claims altruistic aim

Verizon Communications Inc. and Project Kuiper (from Inc.) revealed an expansion of their existing partnership today. They've suggested that they will pair Amazon's low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network (Project Kuiper) with Verizon's terrestrial mobile network to expand internet access or deliver internet access to unserved and underserved communities. They want to make this technology available to "all" people, but they don't go so far as to suggest they'll actually be delivering said technology for free.

If you take a peek at the Verizon announcement about this expanded partnership, you'll find Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg speaking about how the future will be built on Verizon's 5G network, claiming "we believe that the power of this technology must be accessible for all."

With Project Kuiper's 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit, Amazon will deliver "cellular backhaul solutions" for Verizon's 5G and 4G LTE networks." They suggest that this will connect "rural and remote communities" in the USA. But again – it won't be free. The partnership will begin with the companies developing technical specifications and defining commercial models for customers.

Amazon previously suggested that they are committed to working with "public and private sector partners" that share their vision for their project. After seeking FCC approval and getting FCC approval granted in July of 2020, Amazon said they'll be aiming to "expand broadband access to more households in the United States and around the world."

This could be great – if Amazon's claimed goal is accurate: delivering "fast, affordable broadband to customers and communities around the world." This could mean delivering data to users through the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in the USA and similar programs around the world.

Amazon and Verizon will need to make clear how they'll deliver the "affordable" bit here if they do not make internet connectivity free to the communities they suggest they're aiming to serve. If Amazon and Verizon truly aim to make their technology "accessible for all", they'll need to acknowledge that "all" includes people who cannot afford to pay for access.